Indian PM Modi will put forward developing nations’ energy transition concerns at COP28 in Dubai



All eyes will be on Dubai from November 30-December 12 as leaders and climate change experts gather here for the annual climate summit convened by the United Nations. As the world faces rising temperatures and rising water levels, what is at stake is the very future of our planet we all call home. The year 2023 is also the hottest ever recorded – a wake-up call for all of us.

But the challenges which are obvious even before COP28 begins is whether different countries will be able to put aside their differences and take decisions which benefit humanity as a whole.

One issue that has long dominated these discussions is the divide between the richer and less developed nations of the world. Rich nations in the West have contributed the most to the world’s pollution while poorer countries who pollute less are paying the price. For example, while the United States accounts for only 4% of the current global population, it contributed 17% of global emissions between 1850 and 2021.

In contrast, India, representing 18% of the world’s population, has contributed only 5% of greenhouse gas emissions to date. As Oxfam International points out that the world’s wealthiest 10% were responsible for around half of global emissions in 2015.

These figures help one understand why this debate gets so heated and why the developing world wants the richer nations to commit more, not just in phasing out fossil fuels but also in picking the tab as poorer nations struggle to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. In short, the fight is also over who will foot the bill as the world debates at COP28 on whether to ‘phase out’ or ‘phase down’ fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) are “by far the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions. As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat,” points out a report by the United Nations. At COP27, China and Saudi Arabia, along with many other countries, had blocked a major proposal to phase out all fossil fuels.

India, along with many African nations, has been quite unequivocal about their position that richer nations need to commit to phasing out the use of fossil fuels faster than other nations. COP28 is likely to see heated debates and negotiations on the need to have a proposal in place to phase out fossil fuels. It will also be an indicator of the summit’s success if indeed such a proposal can be adopted or even finalised.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Dubai on December 1 where he will also deliver a national statement highlighting India’s climate action. At home, Modi has been championing Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE movement), which urges countries to adopt planet-friendly living practices and to move away from deeply consumerist behaviours.

India today is the world’s fifth largest economy and the most populous nation (1.4 billion) and hence its commitments at COP28 will be significant. It is also today the voice of the ‘Global South’. New Delhi will lobby developed world to commit to making a financial package available to smaller nations so that a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy can be a reality. Sadly, the track record has not very good so far. In 2009, richer nations pledged to provide $100 billion per year by 2020 to poorer countries to help with this transition, but the target was not met.

For India, the moot point is also coal production and a growing economy where energy demands continue to grow rapidly. India, it is reliably learnt, is unlikely to commit at COP28 to coal phase-down pledges. However, Modi will look to build on the G20 outcomes on climate change at the summit.

One of the main focus areas at COP28 will be achieving the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, especially the target of limiting global warming to well below 2° Celsius and preferably to 1.5° Celsius. In August 2022, India updated its national action plan to achieve these goals.

For New Delhi, COP28 will be an opportunity to put forth its vision of a greener, taking all nations together. It will keeps it eyes on domestic growing energy needs, its dependence on coal, its efforts to transit to renewables as well as holding the richer countries accountable in terms of both pledges and financial commitments. It’s a good sign that Modi will himself be in Dubai to present India’s vision at the summit. It also signals India’s seriousness to deal with climate change issues.

No one expects any miracles at COP28 but it sure holds great promise as leaders from governments and industry sit down and plan for a better and greener world. – The writer is Executive Editor of

Executive Editor Simran Sodhi puts into perspective India’s stand and initiatives to tackle climate change during COP28

Simran Sodhi
Simran Sodhi is a Delhi-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. She holds a Masters in International Relations from the American University in Washington DC. In 2009, her book ‘Piercing the Heart- Untold Stories of 26/11’ was published. She has written for The Statesman, Pioneer, Al Arabiya English, Khaleej Times and is a regular analyst on All India Radio programmes on foreign affairs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.